Shimmy and Dallas - A Pigeon Love Story
Animal Stories from


Palomacy: Pigeon & Dove Adoptions
March 2016

When you next see a pigeon foraging for crumbs on the sidewalk, please know that most likely you are seeing another pigeonís beloved, another pigeonís Shimmy.

pigeons shimmy and dallas
Shimmy and Dallas, January 2016

Shimmy & Dallas were two big, scruffy rescued meat pigeons who loved each other deeply. Thatís not unusual. Mated pigeons have incredibly strong, emotional relationships. When Shimmyís health began to decline (he had congestive heart failure), I brought them in from my foster aviary to my special needs bird room and was privileged to see every day how devoted they were. If love was a tonic, Shimmy would have been cured. Dallas did everything he could to comfort his beloved Shimmy up to his death and beyond.

At the Start

In March of 2014, someone brought their pet King/Carneau cross pigeon to the San Francisco Animal Care & Control shelter and surrendered him. They didnít mention his name. Shelter staff named him Shimmy Shimmy CoCo Pop because, like many King pigeons, he was prone to quivering when nervous. Shimmy, big and strong as he was, quivered a lot. He was at the shelter for nine weeks when I finally couldnít stand it anymore and brought him home to add to our already too big case load. I fostered him in my backyard aviary.

Within days of Shimmy getting out of the shelter, Dallas was brought in. He was lucky enough to survive not only being sold for meat by a live poultry market in Chinatown but also being inhumanely ďreleasedĒ to Washington Square Park in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco. He was another King/Careau cross.

While we were full up, SFACC was even fuller and I was asked to take some pigeons in so as to save them from being killed for space and on 6/19/14, we took Dallas, Carlita, and sick babies Guru & Ash into our life-saving foster care.

shimmy and dallas pigeons
The flock in my aviary (Dallas second from left, Shimmy center foreground)

Dallas was a high strung, nervous and aggressive pigeon. I call him a Type A pigeon. He didnít enjoy people at all and for the most part, I left him home in the aviary rather than put him through the discomfort of outreach events.

Shimmy was a big, gentle bird with a sweet though shy temperament. When I brought him to outreach and humane education events, he always won the hearts of those who met him.

Pigeon Love

Despite having their having such different temperaments and the same gender, Shimmy and Dallas made a quick connection. In my aviary full of already married pigeons and lonesome bachelors, they decided to become a couple and by 7/28 were nesting together as a mated pair and sitting on the fake eggs that I provided. (Married pigeons love to nest and sit on eggs and so we provide fakes to pigeons who canít have or keep their own eggs [so as to prevent hatching of babies]. Pigeons love having eggs to fuss over and sit on.

married pigeons
Dallas and Shimmy married

Dallas and Shimmy were both King/Carneau crosses and both had heterochromia - different color eyes. Their left eyes were gold, their right eyes dark brown. Of the 700 pigeons and doves that we have rescued over the past eight years, most have had or sought opposite-sex mates. We have taken in a few same-sex couples. Billie and Alejandra came in as a mated pair of hens but they split up as soon as the bachelors in the foster flock started courting them, eventually marrying George & Sparks respectively. Big giant King pigeon Lola and his tiny Fantail pigeon Luigi came to us as a mated, same-sex couple and they stayed together, very much in love until Lolaís death. Lady pigeons Angel and Freddie met and married in our foster care. When potential adopters ask about keeping a pair of same sex pigeons as pets, I tell them that if they are both female, they will most likely bond and eventually become a mated couple. If they are both males, we have seen them sometimes bond but we have also seen some remain persistent rivals over long periods of time, never marrying.

Pigeon Marriages

Pigeon marriages are very complex and are much more of an emotional relationship than just a sexual coupling. (See Love Is Strong and Brandon Keimís What Pigeons Teach Us About Love.) Weíve had adult, sexually mature pigeons remain single (and celibate) for months in a aviary together and then, on their own personal timeline, come together and marry as Willow & Blue did and weíve had one pigeon, Louie, who stayed resolutely single, despite being courted, for her entire eight years with us. There was little Bean, single, who did everything like a male pigeon until one day, upon being introduced to Blanco, immediately fell in love at first sight and they became inseparable. I thought they were my gay pigeons until one day, Bean finally laid an egg and proved herself undeniably female.

PLEASE read more about Pigeon Love!

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